01/05/2012 08:50 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Mum Gave Nurse £100 In Desperate Bid To Secure Better Care For Her Dying Baby


A desperate mother gave a nurse a £100 gift voucher in a last-ditch attempt to secure better care for her dying baby.

An inquest has heard how little Hayley Fullerton passed away after suffering a heart attack at Birmingham Children's Hospital despite her mum's frantic pleas to doctors to transfer her to an intensive care unit.

Birmingham's Coroners Court was told that Paula Stevenson was so distraught over the poor care she felt her baby was getting that she attempted to BRIBE nurses with a gift voucher.

Paula said she had bought the voucher in an attempt to encourage a nurse to look after Hayley better.

The heartbroken mum recalled how medics refused to transfer Hayley to a paediatric intensive care unit even though she had suffered a collapsed lung.

Sobbing Paula, 38, told the court that both she and Hayley's grandparents – her parents – had BEGGED staff to X-ray Hayley's chest when they noticed she was having trouble breathing.

Eventually – days later – an X-ray revealed the little girl's right lung had collapsed. Even then, doctors refused to put her into intensive care, instead moving her to an isolation ward.

Paula said that every time she complained to staff about her daughter's care the worse it became, and that she and her parents monitored Hayley for 24 hours a day were horrified by the lack of check ups she received.

She said that medics repeatedly said there was nothing to be concerned about, despite the family noticing how much Hayley's condition deteriorating.

Paula said: "When I started saying out loud my daughter was being neglected they ignored her even more."

Hayley had been diagnosed with a congenital heart defect before she was born at the Royal Victoria hospital in Belfast in October 2008. Paula and her husband Bobby had emigrated from Northern Ireland to Australia, but they decided to allow doctors treating them in Belfast to continue in doing so. When their specialist retired, they were offered three choices for Hayley's care – hospitals in Dublin, Brisbane or Birmingham. Because of its excellent reputation, they chose Birmingham.

Hayley underwent successful surgery in Birmingham in September 2009, but became ill in recovery when doctors tried to insert a tube into her lung. It was too wide and caused the organ to collapse.

Paula said: "I genuinely thought it was an honest mistake but I asked that if the tube was to be inserted again that I could be there and that a more senior doctor would be there to see it."

Hayley's health began to improve, and the family were expecting her to be moved to a high dependency unit. Despite the family's protests, this did not happen, and she was instead moved to a ward next door to the unit.

When her lung collapsed for the second time, she was moved into isolation, which the family say they felt was done to stop them complaining.

Paula said: "I was out of my mind with worry and was so upset. I told the physio treating Hayley that I felt no one cared about her and no one had taken a blind bit of notice. The doctors were arrogant and unprofessional."

Giving evidence to the inquest Paula's father Edward said: "The nurses told me to turn Hayley's monitors and emergency alarm off and to monitor her stats myself.

"They said it was because the monitors were new and didn't work. In my view it was because they didn't know how to set them.

"You didn't need to be a doctor to see that Hayley was not fine as they kept telling us and her breathing was very bad."

Distraught Paula relayed to the inquests the events on the day her daughter died just day's after her first birthday in 2009. She said: "Hayley's stats suddenly dropped and she was really struggling to breathe. Her eyes were panic stricken and started rolling back in her head.

"I shouted for help but no one came and I had to run to the nurses station screaming for help. About 15 doctors rushed into the room and started trying to resuscitate her.

"After 20 minutes I noticed everyone stopped looking at Hayley and started looking at me with pity in their eyes.

"One doctor came towards me and put his hand on the small of my back and said 'sorry mum you've lost her'.

"All I could think was I'm no longer a mother, because she was my only child and she was dead."

An investigation concluded there had been failings in her care at Birmingham Children's hospital and she may have survived if there had not been.

The hearing continues.